“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee
The hands can’t hit
What the eye’s can’t see.” – Muhammed Ali
In another game for the ages, #2 ranked University of Denver knocked out #1 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana in sudden death overtime. Zach Miller, DU’s overtime heavyweight, threw the decisive punch into the net to end the contest.
Miller has done this before to Notre Dame. He is so smooth with and without the ball – it is easy for opponents to get transfixed or lose track – then, boom, the violent delivery of the ball into the back of the net. Today, it was Notre Dame’s time to feel the sting.
During the first half, Denver coasted to a 7-2 lead at break behind Zach Miller’s two goals, along with tallys by Brandon Bomberry, Jack Bobzien, Connor Cannizzaro, and Max Planning – scoring 6 straight goals. The Pioneers were winning ground balls (43-24 DU/Game) and turnover battles (10-12 DU first 3 quarters). Freshman Alex Ready was stout for DU in goal with 14 saves for the game. The third period was scoreless as defenders on both teams smothered opportunity after opportunity and forced turnovers.
In the fourth, momentum shifted to the home team. Denver had 8 turnovers to 2 for ND and was outscored 6-1 by the surging Fighting Irish. Denver appeared particularly stunned as Notre Dame scored an incredible 4 goals in a span of only 43 seconds (between the 5:17 – 4:34 marks). But, the Pioneers steadied themselves after the barrage by the Irish’s Brendon Collins, John Sexton, Mikey Wynne, and P.J. Finley. Trailing 7-8 , DU came back with 2:25 to go in the contest when Tyler Pace took an assist from Colton Jackson to tie the game 8-8. Neither team could score again in regulation.
In OT, DU got possession on a Trevor Baptiste (12-21) faceoff. DU called a timeout and Coach Matt Brown called the play. The inbound ball eventually found its way to Tyler Pace’s stick – he pitched the ball back to Zach Miller out front of the goal who sent a missile flying into the upper left corner of the cage to end the game.
Certainly, this result will put Denver firmly in the number one slot. Hard to explain how a defending national champion, Denver, could be undefeated (5-0) heading into the game and not already be number one. But Denver left no doubt with this important road victory which team deserved that spot.
As for OT, Zach Miller and the rest of his teammates showed that they can take a punch and still gather their wits. And of course, Zach Miller delivered the knockout punch – they never saw it coming.